Excerpts from Remember My Valley ©1977
by LaVerna Burnett Newey
Hawkes Publishing, Inc.
3775 South 500 West
Salt Lake City, Utah 84115
When the Dam was elevated in 1957, many changes took place in Huntsville. Among these was the moving away from Huntsville of the Winter family. Their homes were located in what is now known as Jefferson Hunt’s Campground. . . . Jens Winter bought the land from James Hawkins in about 1885. It became a place well known over most of the northern part of Utah as a pleasant recreational area. Winter’s Grove is part of Huntsville’s history and should not be forgotten.
Jens Winter came with his parents from Denmark on one of the first trains coming West, at the age of four. The family settled in Huntsville. He died at the age of ninety in 1956.
He bought the land and planted more trees and built a small house. He and his wife made their home in Winter’s Grove. Jens also built a saw and grist mill run by a water wheel.
In the winter the pond furnished the ice for the ice houses. Large blocks of ice were cut and stored in special sheds called ice houses, covered with layers of sawdust, and used in the summer in the homes of the townspeople. From stories told by the older people of the town, it was a special event for the menfolk when the ice was thick enough to be cut, and several days were spent by most of the men cutting and storing the ice. Almost every home had an ice house.
Jens and his second wife, Mamie Tribe Winter, built eight summer cottages, with swings and teeter-totters for the children, picnic tables and benches. Winter’s Grove became a delightful recreational place for vacations, family outings, picnics, and ward gatherings.
Tom Stoker, who had owned a merry-go-round, moved it from the town park to Winter’s Grove. First it was run by horses, and later by an engine. It also had the enticing sound of music.
Mrs. Winter, called “Aunt Mamie” by most of the young people, had a small store in the grove where she sold home-made goodies. She organized many parties for the young people of the town where they enjoyed games, songs, and good things to eat. They built an outdoor dance floor for the young people. After two years however, it was taken up. They also had a skating pond.
Many of the older folks remember walking down to the grove to sit with their best boy or girl friend together in a swing under the trees and to enjoy the generously filled cones of home-made ice cream.
The Winter family loved people and all summer long many enjoyed their gracious hospitality. Along with people theyloved flowers. The grove was always attractive with the wild as well as with other flowers. For years Madonna lilies were grown by the family and sold to Ogden flowers shops by the dozens.
This information appears on a plaque mounted in the Forest Service campground located on the south side of Huntsville near Pineview Reservoir. The campground is located at the site that was originally Jens Winter’s home.
The area now occupied by this campground was known historically as Winter’s Grove. While original settlement in the general area of Huntsville is attributed to Jefferson Hunt in the late 1800’s, another family, the Winters, homesteaded and lived at this location for four generations, raised families and added value and richness to the local setting.
In 1870, Jens Winter came west with his Danish parents on one of the first trains to cross the continent. By 1885, he acquired additional acreage here from James Hawkins, another of the area’s first settlers. Over the next several years Winter built a small house, set up a saw and grist mill, and an ice house to supply local needs.
With his second wife, Mamie Tribe Winter, Jens eventually built eight summer cottages, picnic tables, swings, and teeter totters. Winter’s Grove became a delightful recreational place for family outings, picnics, and community gatherings.
“Aunt Mamie,” as she was known, sold home-made goodies in a small store and organized parties for the town young people, who enjoyed games, songs, an outdoor dance floor, and skating on the pond.
We are fortunate that a few photographs of those days have survived in the family collections of Jens and Mamie’s descendants, as they help us form more vivid images of those past days.
In the mid-1950s this site was purchased from the Winter family by the government to enlarge Pineview Reservoir and provide the present Forest Service campground.
Please enjoy this place that has long been a pleasant haven from daily work and routines.
The pictures shown on the plaque say “Jens working the large saw” “Elmer, Mamie, and Jens Winter”, “Cutting ice for the ice house” and “The mill and Winter home in background.”
Article from the Utah Fish and Game Bulletin published by the Utah Fish and Game Department December 1954-January 1955.
This is one of a series of articles to appear in the Bulletin concerning the lives of “old timers,” information gathered by personal interviews with these men who have lived close to nature. This story is written by LaVar Ware as told to him by “Old Timer” Jens Winter
Smoke billowed from the tall stack of the old wood-burning steam engine as it gradually came to a stop at the Ogden station. Among its passengers, the first to arrive in Utah by rail, was the small family of Jens Winters. To him, his wife Anne, and their four-year-old son, this seemed a strange and wild country. The young boy, named Jens after his father, was born in Denmark in 1865. Today, at the age of eighty-nine, he still remembers the strange feeling of emptiness as he stepped onto the station platform in Ogden after the long trip from Denmark.
Christian Jensen was waiting at the station to meet this family of emigrants. With all of their worldly goods, the Winters family was transported in a small buggy to their new home in a beautiful valley in Ogden Canyon. They were among the first settlers in Huntsville. Their first home was a log cabin with a small room and a dirt floor. Jens’s father, who was engaged in farming and stock raising, taught young Jens at an early age how to follow a plow, harness the team, as well as many other things a young farm boy should know.
Old Timer still remembers the first one-room log cabin schoolhouse which was located in the middle of the public square. He laughed so hard that tears rolled down his cheeks when he related one of the few things be remembers of his school days. A friendly old black bear had wandered close to the public square causing a lot of excitement. The young men of the town were chasing the bear with their stock ponies. To seek cover, the bear dived for the open door of the schoolhouse. Old Timer related, “You can imagine how excited we were. There was the bear in the schoolroom with the teacher and her class of small students. The men of the town killed the bear while it was still inside the schoolhouse.” Probably one of the happiest days of Old Timer’s life was the day school was to start when he was fifteen years old. His father came to him and said, “Jens, you’re not going to school this year. We need you on the farm.” This made him very happy. Not because he disliked school so much, but now he would be able to spend more time fishing. Fishing has always been one of his favorite pastimes, and at one time in his life it was his livelihood. Few men can boast of having made a living fishing from Utah’s streams and lakes. However, in those early days North Fork, Middle Fork, and the Ogden River were all full of large native trout. When Old Timer was a young man, he actually made his living by catching these fish and selling them to “Butter” Mortensen (his name grew out of his butter business), who would resell them on the market in Salt Lake City. Fish was not the only commodity in Mortensen’s wagon. He also would make a weekly trip with farm produce, fish, and game meat. He kept several commercial hunters in business in this area. One of Jens’s best friends, Marinas Johansen, was one of these hunters. According to Jens, deer and elk were much more abundant in this area seventy-five years ago than today. It would require more time to haul a wagon load of deer or elk to the market in Salt Lake City than it took to kill and clean them.
It seems that bear were plentiful in the area also. Every fall Jens and his father would make their annual trip into “pole patch” (now Snow Basin) for their winter supply of fire wood. If they got up early enough to be the first wagon up the canyon in the morning, they would find that bear tracks would cover the trails from their trip the day before.
One late autumn morning in 1892 Jens and Johansen were hunting in the mountains south of the valley when they noticed huge bear tracks in the new snow. The snow was four inches deep, so following the bear would not be difficult. Realizing that bear roasts would sell much better than deer on the market, they postponed their deer hunt and went after the bear. Johansen had killed several bear during his life, but Jens was inexperienced. The tracks led them through several canyons and into a patch of thick oak. Knowing it would be dangerous to follow a bear in such thick cover, they gave up the chase. Reluctantly they turned and started back down the trail. The thoughts of a juicy bear roast had all but left their minds, when on the trail right in front of them were the huge bear tracks again. The old bear had made a complete circle and had crossed his own tracks. In the words of the Old Timer, “The tracks couldn’t have been more than fifteen minutes old. The wind was blowing in the right direction, and we realized the bear would have a hard time catching our scent. It didn’t take us long to catch up with him. When we found him, he was stretched out under the cover of a thick oak grunting contentedly. He was within easy shooting distance but was uphill from us. I wanted to shoot him right there and not give him another chance to get away. But Johansen, who had already had several experiences with wounded bears, said it would be too dangerous, so we decided to work our way around and shoot him from above. This way we would have to shoot at very close range. Johansen took my 45-70 and gave me his 25 caliber deer gun. Of course, with his long experience shooting game, I wanted him to carry the big gun. As we sneaked slowly through the brush, the thoughts of shooting a bear made us both a bit hasty and careless. We topped the ridge a few feet from the spot where the bear was enjoying a sun bath. He immediately sniffed the air and at that very instant the 45-70 almost burst my eardrums.
He charged, taking three big jumps toward us. In that split second Johansen and I both fired twice. The bear stumbled and fell at our feet. All five shots had hit the bear, and lucky for us, the last one smashed through his front teeth and into his neck.”
Even with such exciting bear stories to tell, the conversation always drifted back to fishing, which seemed to be Old Timer’s “first love.” It was some time after the turn of the century when the game warden told Jens it was against the law to sell fish on the market. This almost put Jens out of business, until he learned he could still sell live fish. “Yes, the game warden said it would be all right.” Of course, this cut out the middleman like “Butter” Mortensen. So, Old Timer found a restaurant owner from Ogden who was interested in buying his fish. The only trouble was that he had to sell them alive. He decided to use large wooden boxes as holding pens and place these boxes in several places along the stream. In this way he could fill the boxes with live trout, and the restaurant owner could gather them from the boxes.
Suspecting that Old Timer used a seine, the writer queried him as to how he caught so many fish. He confessed that he had a secret method about which he had never told anyone. However, with a little persuasion he divulged his secret to me. It was no sport to catch them with a seine, he told me, so he always used a hook and line, and here was his secret. Jens had observed that on a dark night the long-legged fly would lay its eggs by dipping its tail into the water and maneuvering itself in a zigzag motion across the surface. To imitate this, Jens used the tail of a bullhead, and with a short line he would draw it across the surface of a deep pool and almost without fail he could fill his boxes with trout in one night. The darker the night, the easier it was.
The days of commercial hunters and fishermen have passed, and it will take all of the “know how” in the book for the biologists and conservation-minded sportsmen to preserve what little is left of this once commercial resource.